HART 7 wins...now what?

As expected, the HART Communication Foundation Board voted to release the complete HART 7 specification, including WirelessHART, which now becomes an open international standard. As promised, Honeywell cast a no vote. I have included the text of the HART foundation's press release below, but I want to inject some commentary up front. Honeywell's stated issue with WirelessHART is that ISA100.11a will be coming out "real soon now." As noted previously, there is some doubt about that. When the convenor of a standards committee (the person who is responsible for the conduct of the committee and its progress as a whole) signs on to a letter of dissent, as Marty Zielinski of Emerson, has done, you have to question the validity of the standard committee's timetable. But that is neither here nor there. HART 7 and WirelessHART are a fait accompli and need to be lived with. ISA SP100 has an obligation to make their standard, NOT YET WRITTEN, conform to WirelessHART. This is relatively easy to do, too. Just as cellphones have dual, triple and quadruple frequency capability, it would be very easy to design into the ISA100.11a standard a dual stack approach. Now that the WirelessHART standard is public and available, it behooves Ron Helson to send a complimentary copy of the standard immediately to the SP100 committee, and give them permission to use it. All the SP100 committee need do is to make sure that the header message in the ISA100 stack is different than the WirelessHART header, and permit an ISA100 radio to wake up, decide if it is going to be on a WirelessHART network or an ISA100 network, and act accordingly. There is no hardware engineering problem here...this is a vendor optional firmware issue. Even more important, this kind of solution would be entirely invisible to the end users, who don't want to care about stuff like this anyway. They've told us they want a single standard...so it is up to SP100 to give them one. One that includes WirelessHART. Let's get to the bottom of this fast. SP100 is burdened, because WirelessHART is already out. So suck it up, folks, and let's get busy finding a clean and easy fix. There are no more excuses.
Here's the text of the HCF press release:

WirelessHART Standard Approved and Released

HART Communication Foundation releases first open wireless communication standard for process measurement and control

(Austin TX USA - 7 September 2007) - The HART® Communication Foundation (HCF) announces the official release of the HART 7 Specification.  The HART 7 Specification enables many new capabilities for communication with intelligent field devices including WirelessHARTâ„¢, the first open wireless communication standard specifically designed for process measurement and control applications. The HCF membership approved the HART 7 Specifications in June 2007, following an extensive review and approval process.  Today, the HCF Board of Directors authorized release of this new standard. "With official release of the HART 7 Specifications, the WirelessHART standard is now publicly available and manufacturers can begin implementing this new capability into their products and process solutions.  I expect that products complying with this new standard will be available from multiple manufacturers in early 2008," says HCF Executive Director Ron Helson. WirelessHART technology addresses the critical needs of the process industry for simple, reliable and secure wireless communication in the real world industrial plant environment. It is easy to use, easy to deploy, and fully backward compatible with existing instrumentation and host systems, preserving the investment in HART-enabled devices, tools, training, applications and work procedures used today.  "WirelessHART provides the same experience that users know and expect from HART-enabled products, protecting the global installed base of 24+ million HART devices," says Helson. WirelessHART communication builds on established and field-proven international standards including the HART protocol (IEC 61158), EDDL (IEC 61804-3), IEEE 802.15.4 radio and frequency hopping, spread spectrum and mesh networking technologies. The new technology addresses the issues users face in the process plant environment and seamlessly integrates existing devices into HART-enabled systems. WirelessHART technology was developed from user input through the combined, cooperative efforts of HCF member companies and leaders in wireless technology, including ABB, Adaptive Instruments, Crossbow Technology, Dust Networks, ELPRO Technologies, Emerson Process Management, Endress+Hauser, Flowserve, Honeywell, MACTek, MTL, Omnex Control Systems, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Siemens, Smar, Yamatake and Yokogawa. HART Communication is the global standard for smart process instrumentation with an installed base of more than 24 million devices worldwide. The HART Communication Foundation provides worldwide support for application of HART technology.  For more information, go to www.hartcomm.org.

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